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Guerrero powers way to home run derby title

July 10, 2007|Bill Shaikin

Vladimir Guerrero did not follow the flight of the ball. He knew he had won the All-Star game home run derby.

He dropped his bat and took a few steps toward the 18 friends and family members gathered on the field. His cousin jumped into his arms. He waved a flag from his homeland, the Dominican Republic.

"Any time you do anything well," Guerrero said through an interpreter, "you want to wave your flag."

In the final round, Guerrero beat Alex Rios of the Toronto Blue Jays. Rios hit a derby-high 12 homers in the semifinals but only two in the finals. Guerrero, batting last, clinched the victory with his third home run of the finals.

Guerrero's home runs averaged 435 feet, the longest of any of the eight participants, including a 503-foot shot to the heel of the oversized glove behind the left-center-field bleachers.

Guerrero, who does not wear batting gloves, said he paused during the first two rounds to tape his right index finger so it did not crack.

In the first round, after he started slowly, Dominican countryman David Ortiz interrupted him, taking his bat and switching it for what appeared to be one of Ortiz's bats.

"It was my bat," Guerrero said. "We had it planned. If I wasn't doing well at the beginning, he was going to bring it to me."

Guerrero's victory gave the Angels their second derby titlist in five years and third overall, following Wally Joyner in 1986 and Garret Anderson in 2003.

Anderson hit a home run the next day too, winning honors as most valuable player of the All-Star game with a homer, double and two runs batted in.

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Bill Shaikin

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HOME RUN DERBY WINNERS

Note: The 1988 contest at Riverfront Stadium in Cincinnati was not held because of rain.

2007: Vladimir Guerrero, ANGELS (AT&T Park)

2006: Ryan Howard, Philadelphia Phillies (PNC Park)

2005: Bobby Abreu, Philadelphia Phillies (Comerica Park)

2004: Miguel Tejada, Baltimore Orioles (Minute Maid Park)

2003: Garret Anderson, ANGELS (U.S. Cellular Field)

2002: Jason Giambi, New York Yankees (Miller Park)

2001: Luis Gonzalez, Arizona Diamondbacks (Safeco Field)

2000: Sammy Sosa, Chicago Cubs (Turner Field)

1999: Ken Griffey Jr., Seattle Mariners (Fenway Park)

1998: Ken Griffey Jr., Seattle Mariners (Coors Field)

1997: Tino Martinez, New York Yankees (Jacobs Field)

1996: Barry Bonds, San Francisco Giants (Veterans Stadium)

1995: Frank Thomas, Chic. White Sox (The Ballpark in Arlington)

1994: Ken Griffey Jr., Seattle Mariners (Three Rivers Stadium)

1993: Juan Gonzalez, Texas Rangers (Camden Yards)

1992: Mark McGwire, Oakland Athletics (Jack Murphy Stadium)

1991: Cal Ripken, Baltimore Orioles (SkyDome)

1990: Ryne Sandberg, Chicago Cubs (Wrigley Field)

1989: Eric Davis, Cincinnati Reds, and

Ruben Sierra, Texas Rangers (Anaheim Stadium)

1987: Andre Dawson, Chicago Cubs (Oakland Coliseum)

1986: Wally Joyner, ANGELS, and

Darryl Strawberry, New York Mets (Houston Astrodome)

1985: Dave Parker, Cincinnati Reds (The Metrodome)

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ASSOCIATED PRESS

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